40. Lend an Ear

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Noise is ear pollution. It is often called “unwanted sound.” If a sound is something you like, a song or a call from a friend, it is just a sound. But if you are trying to sleep or study, then this sound becomes a noise.

This “unwanted sound” has an effect upon our bodies. For example, loud noises can cause a loss of hearing. Even wanted sound, such as amplified rock-and-roll music, can hurt your hearing, though you may not think of it as noise. The first warning that a sound may be loud enough to hurt is called “ear distress.” This would be felt as a pain or heard as a ringing noise in the ear. People who have this complaint should be examined by a doctor.

Noise of any kind may make you nervous or affect your sleep. Noise can also affect your speech and your ability to think. Noise has been linked to cases of heart disease, ulcers, mental illness, and other sicknesses.

Noise, of course, is not always bad. It does have a place in our lives. You may not like to hear car horns, but they do warn you of oncoming cars when you cross a street. A thumping noise from a bicycle tire tells you that the tire may be flat. Also, one noise can help block out another unwanted noise. An example is when loud music in an office drowns out the sounds of typewriters.

Sound is made by air pressure on your eardrums. When you clap your hands, for example, listen to the sound. Air was pushed out from between your hands when you brought them together. At almost the same time, air in your ears pushed your eardrums inward. Your ears signaled your brain to give you the feeling of a clap sound.

The number of sound waves hitting your eardrums each second controls the highness or lowness of the sound you hear. the strength of sound waves is measured by a sound level meter. The meter uses units called decibels. A whisper amounts to about 20 decibels. A jet plane 100 feet away is about 140 decibels. A sound of about 120 decibels can hurt the ears. Eventually, the ear becomes damaged from such loud noises. It’s a good thing that the average speaking voice reaches only 60 decibels. Otherwise, we might all be a little deaf.

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